In our final installment in the statistical miniseries, we look at how superb our special teams was, as well as the stats that we couldn’t put into just one category.
Fumbles Recovered - 11
This is actually tied for second in the conference and 24th nationally with West Virginia. The real shocker here is Kansas - yes Kansas - led the Big 12 in fumble recoveries this season with 12. The Minnesota Golden Gophers led the nation with 16 fumble recoveries.
Kickoff Return Defense - 18.28 yards per return
The Pokes’ ridiculously low kickoff return defense is good for both the conference lead, as well as 19th in the nation. Bowling Green, out of the MAC, led the nation surrendering a measly 15.05 yards per return.
Blocked Kicks - 6
These six blocked kicks were good for fourth in the nation, behind Texas State, who had eight and Georgia Southern and Michigan, who both had seven. Texas was right behind the Pokes with five blocked kicks, good for second in the conference. Vincent Taylor accounted for four of the six blocked kicks, including this one that should have won him the Piesman Trophy.
Net Punting - 41.07 yards per punt
Tangent / mini-rant time. I hate how a punter is considered “good” based on how far he kicks the ball. I think we should judge a punter’s worth based primarily on his touchbacks, fair catches and kicks inside the 20. If that is how we judge the skill of a punter, Zach Sinor probably would have won the Ray Guy Award, or at least have been a finalist. I’m not saying punting yards are worthless, but to me, it doesn’t quite paint an accurate picture of a punter’s skill.
That being said, Sinor and the coverage team had the Pokes in the top 10 this season, finishing in ninth place nationally and second in the conference, behind Texas, who finished fourth in the nation.
Punt Return Defense - 0.94 yards per return
Somebody give the special teams coach a raise, because that is astounding coverage on the punts. The Pokes were second in the nation, coming in only behind North Carolina, who allowed a jaw-dropping 0.22 yards per game.
Punt Returns - 10.86 yards per game
The Cowboys narrowly edged out Kansas State (10.81) for the conference lead. This was also enough to claim the 22nd spot, with Texas A&M generating 25.36 return yards per game to claim the best spot in the nation. Kansas was dead last in the nation, averaging -1.43 yards per game. Oh Kansas.
Overall Team Stats
Turnover Margin - +0.85
The Cowboys once again turn up in the top 10 of another category, as they averaged 0.85 turnovers forced a game. Kansas State bested the Cowboys, forcing 1.00 turnovers a game, and earned the 4th best spot in the nation. Western Michigan and Washington both tied for the best turnover margin with a 1.29 on the season.
Turnovers Lost - 14
Once again, the Fighting Bill Snyders bested the Cowboys in this category, losing two less turnovers than Mike Gundy’s group. However, 14 lost turnovers on the year means the Cowboys are the 12th best in the country, while Kansas State is the 5th best in the nation. The P.J. Fleck-led Western Michigan Broncos took care of the ball the best, only turning it over eight times in 14 games. While this would normally be an offensive stat, we had a few fumbles on special teams, as well as one on defense, so I decided to put it in the overall team section.
Winning Percentage - 76.9
OU obviously claims the top spot in the conference, with an 84.6 winning percentage - which was the fifth best winning percentage in the country. West Virginia and Oklahoma State were tied for second best in the conference and 12th best in the nation. Clemson and Alabama were tied for the best winning percentage with 93.3.
Fewest Penalty Yards - 643
Big 12 refs were pretty happy to throw the flags this season, as the 643 total yards the Cowboys were penalized were the lowest in the conference this season. In comparison, UConn led the nation in fewest penalty yards with a grand total of 339. Yikes.
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game - 49.46
Bouncing off the previous stat, Oklahoma State had more than double of Navy’s national best 24.36 penalty yards per game, but it was still low enough to claim conference victory.
So out of 47 categories that stats were kept in, the Cowboys made the top 25 nationally or was the best in the conference in 22 of those. This team is only primed to get better next year. In fact, Campus Insiders ranked OSU #4 in their Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2017. People continually say the Big 12 is “trash” or “overrated” but, looking at the stats, the Big 12 is not that bad at all.